Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment
During your initial evaluation period at Good Samaritan Cancer Institute, you will fill out a family history questionnaire, which includes questions regarding your personal and family history of cancer. This information will help determine if you are a candidate for a cancer gene test.
The following are some red flags for a hereditary cancer predisposition:
- Family member with a known inherited gene mutation
- Breast, colon or uterine cancer diagnosed under the age of 50
- Ovarian cancer diagnosed at any age
- Two or more close family members who have had the same type of cancer
- The same type of cancer in several generations of the family
How Cancer Genetic Testing Works
Genetic testing consists of a mouthwash or blood test. Analysis of the sample can determine if you inherited a gene mutation that contributed to your diagnosis of cancer. Genetic testing might also help determine if you are at greater risk of developing the same cancer again or of developing another type of cancer.
Results of Genetic Testing
Genetic testing can help you make informed decisions about how to manage future risks of cancer. For example, if it is determined that you are at greater risk for a specific cancer, such as Breast Cancer, genetic testing lead to a recommendation to add breast MRIs to your routine screenings as a preventative measure.
Also, if you are a woman who has breast cancer and you find out that you have an inherited risk, you may be at an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer. With the results from the Genetic testing, we will present you with options to reduce the risks of potential cancers.
The test results can help your GSCI doctor develop a plan of care individualized for you. Test results can also be of great value to family members. Before and after genetic testing, you may have a genetic counseling session.
Before and after genetic testing at Good Samaritan Cancer Institute, you may have a counseling session. During your genetic counseling session, we will help simplify the complex results and outcomes into terms you can understand. The goal is to provide clear information about genetic risk factors and address your questions and concerns.
Participating in an introductory education session does not obligate you to have genetic testing done. If you wish to pursue genetic counseling and testing once you leave the hospital, we will try to help you find someone close to home.
Psychological benefits and risks of genetic testing
Genetic testing poses psychological benefits and risks. A negative result, showing that you do not have any genetic indicators for cancer, can bring a sense of relief and reduce some of your worry and anxiety. It may also eliminate the need for more frequent checkups and tests that are routine in individuals with a high risk of cancer.
A positive result, when you get a result that indicates you have a potential higher risk for cancer has been found, can help relieve uncertainty and help you take steps to reduce the risk of recurrence or of developing another cancer. At the same time, a positive result can also cause some anxiety. You may experience feelings of guilt if you learn that you are positive for a gene mutation and that you passed this mutation onto an offspring.
However, it’s important to remember that testing positive for a gene mutation is not a guarantee of developing cancer. Some people who test positive for a mutation never get cancer.
Supportive Cancer Resources
Your entire care team is available to address all of these dimensions of genetic testing. For instance, the mind-body medicine and pastoral care teams can help you cope psychologically with the results of genetic testing. The nutrition team can also help you maintain your nutritional well-being to boost your immune system and reduce the risk of recurrence.